The three Youngstown Democratic mayoral candidates answered questions

By David Skolnick


The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and other community groups asked the three Democratic candidates for Youngstown mayor to “lead” or “get out of the way” on the organization’s three key issues.

The trio agreed Monday to support a city law requiring those filing foreclosures on vacant houses to post a $10,000 bond, and to make sure more city residents, including convicted felons, have employment opportunities.

But two candidates — council President Jamael Tito Brown and John A. McNally IV, a former city law director and Mahoning County commissioner — said they don’t endorse a Youngstown anti-fracking charter amendment on the May 7 ballot that both said is too far-reaching with sections that aren’t enforceable.

While the crowd of about 200 was lively, many of those in attendance at what MVOC called a “We the People” public meeting applauded Brown and McNally for their opposition to the charter amendment, and what the members of the various groups there consider a “get-out-of-the-way” vote.

Each of the three key issues included three questions. Large cut-out heads of Brown, McNally and Matthew Smith, who also is running in the Democratic mayoral primary, were placed on boards in the “lead” or “get out of the way” boxes in front of the audience.

The event is among the last of several forums and debates with the candidates in what has been a quiet primary campaign. The election is a week away.

MVOC — in partnership with Union Baptist Church, Youngstown Neighborhood Leadership Council, Northeast Homeowners Association, Seventh Ward Citizens Coalition, Westside Citizens Coalition, the Committee for a Community Bill of Rights, and the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) — sponsored Monday’s event at Union Baptist Church, 528 Lincoln Ave.

Smith spoke softly when answering questions, making it difficult for those in the audience to hear him. At one point, rather than answer questions, Smith just raised a card with the word “lead” on it.

He was the only candidate to support the entire agenda of the organizations.

The three said they would work with the organizations to address vacant property issues and attempt to have companies receiving tax breaks from the city hire more Youngstown residents.

Also, the three support giving those who served time in prison — or as Wayne Huggins, an MVOC leader who said he served 10 years in a federal prison and was released two years ago, called them, “returning citizens” — a better opportunity to get a job through a city fair-hiring policy.

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